Sunday, June 05, 2005

Oprah Does Faulkner

I have an online home, a private EZ Board comprised mostly of people I've known for years. So, if my attempts to make my blog less of a diary and more of a world-changing skyrocket-me-to-fame leftist hotspot result in issues from that space being rehashed here, I am confident that I will be forgiven.

So. Oprah and Faulkner. This summer's Book Club Picks are As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, and Light in August. It's a summer of Faulkner. Faulkner by the pool. BBQs, fireworks and Faulkner.

A friend of mine, a Faulkner scholar, is distraught about this. I have to admit that I'm thrilled. I think that the average American woman is sophisticated enough to enjoy Faulkner if only she will turn off the TV and give it a shot. Will she come away from the experience having tracked down every allusion and literary device and ready to write a 30-page critical essay? Probably not. But it really sucks that that has become the standard for appreciating great books.

With rare exceptions, I don't think that the members of the English literary canon set pen to paper in hopes of becoming a rarefied intellectual experience. If they didn't think that what they had to say might be interesting to someone other than a grad student, then they wouldn't have poured so much of themselves into writing books. And really, if what they had to say is only interesting to grad students, then I would seriously question their greatness.


At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Jaime said...

I'm totally with you! I was thrilled when my mom told me Oprah had chosen three Faulkners as summer reading. I had a long talk with my dad about it, and he pointed out that he'd been assigned Light in August and As I Lay Dying in high school. I read Light in high school too, and was totally baffled ~ I'm sure I'm going to like it a lot better this time around. I think that will be the case for a lot of people. Imagine that for a minute: A whole country full of people re-reading books that they were too young to fully appreciate in high school, and coming to realize how much more there is to those books. I think that kind of realization is what truly lasting writers aim for, not becoming the sole province of English departments...

At 12:44 PM, Blogger Trista said...

well, I know that I, as a future Great Writer, can only truly be appreciated by people wearing tweed. Of course, to be appreciated by people wearing tweed, I have to sell enough copies to draw tweedy interest. It's a conundrum. And one that would be solved if I could get Oprah to recommend my (as yet unpublished) book. Therefore I kiss her ass at every opportunity so I think her choices are GREAT.

Actually, I love Faulkner and I think it is great that more people will be blowing the dust off his covers this summer.


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